The Israeli government has “regularized” the previously unrecognized Jewish outpost of Havat Gilad in the occupied West Bank, and will be connecting it to the electrical and water grids, and paving an access road for “security and humanitarian reasons.”
The government and the Ministerial Committee for Legislation are also considering a bill that would allow the transfer of Palestinian land in the West Bank – what the government considers “state land”(in defiance of the international consensus and international law) – to the World Zionist Organization’s (WZO) Settlement Division for the purposes of settlement construction.
Suhad Bishara, Director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit at Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – has sent an urgent letter to members of the Israeli government and the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, as well as to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, demanding that they rescind the first measure and reject the second on the grounds that they both violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law applicable in the occupied West Bank.
Regarding the authorization of a new Israeli settlement at the Havat Gilad outpost, Attorney Bishara wrote: “This proposal has a clear political purpose… and it would transform the Israeli military commander in the West Bank into the operational arm of the Israeli executive branch. The proposed decision would violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of a civilian population of the occupying power into occupied territory… The transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory is listed as a war crime in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
The bill that would grant the WZO’s Settlement Division management over West Bank lands is the latest attempt by Israel to apply Israeli civil law to occupied territories. It has many parallels to Israel’s controversial Settlement Regularization Law, which has drawn strong international criticism and is currently being challenged before the Israeli Supreme Court for its gross violation of international law.